What Presbyterians Believe
The teachings of 16th century reformer John Calvin remain the core of what we believe. We emphasize the authority of Scripture, the centrality of preaching, the priesthood of all believers, our confessional nature, and justification by grace through faith. Symbols of these beliefs are found in our denomination’s seal.
The two center lines of the cross form the contour of an open book with a dove descending toward it. We believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God. It is unique and has authority in our lives. It is how we come to know God. Through the power of the Spirit, here illustrated as a dove, God continues to speak to us through the Scriptures.
Beneath the open book is the outline of a pulpit. Preaching of God’s Word holds a central place in our worship. We take seriously Christ’s words when he called us to “Go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them everything I have commanded” (Matthew 28: 19-20). Hearing God’s Word preached helps us continue to learn and grow in our faith.
Looking closely, you will discover a baptismal font and a communion cup. These symbols describe our two sacraments. We hold to one baptism and see it as a sign of God’s great love for us and call upon our lives. Our communion table is open to all who call Jesus their Savior. The fish was the secret symbol of the early church, a time when all ministered to one another. We aspire to be that “priesthood of all believers”, for all believers are ministers with gifts to share.
The flames in the lower part of the seal remind us of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We celebrate that our beliefs are Reformed and also always reforming. Over time we have written what we believe. These are called Confessions. We continue to do this because we are listening for the Spirit’s movement today, seeking out new ways to be faithful in our time and place.
Finally, we believe that all of us have sinned and fall short of what God wants for us. We believe that, on the cross, God reached out to us and redeemed us through Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s sacrifice, God triumphed over death and justified us through grace.